Saturday, September 18, 2010

Michael Knoblach: An Antiques Dealer Who "Drums" Up Business, Music, and Poetry.

(Knoblach--far right)

Michael Knoblach: An Antiques Dealer Who "Drums" Up Business, Music, and Poetry.

By Doug Holder

Michael Knoblach met me at my usual table at the Bloc 11 Cafe in the Union Square section of Somerville, Mass. He is a big man, with thinning shoulder length hair, and a deep but somewhat muted voice. He is what I would call a renaissance man, a man with an eclectic range of interests and sensibilities. A graduate of Tufts University, the former Somerville resident still conducts much of his business in the 'ville. Among other things Knoblach is an antiques dealer and used to do a lot of business with " Poor Little Rich Girl" when it was still in Somerville. He deals in a wide range of antiques, but it has turned out his specialty is drums. Vintage drums to be exact. Knoblach started pounding the kettles when he was a mere lad. Since then he has collected over 1,000 drums, from Arabic hand drums to Indian drums, all stored in his cramped Medford condo. I asked him why he is so enamored with this percussion instrument. He said: " I can walk down the street and find a piece of garbage to drum on and it would sound good." And indeed Kornblach has made drums out of things like old artillery shells ( let us pray they are not live!).

Although Knoblach has performed on drums with the group Mission of Burma years ago, to working with members of the Dresden Dolls, he now is basically into the recording of music. He is currently working with Eric Dahlman, a trumpeter, and other artists. Over the years, Knoblach has performed in venues like: Johnny D's, the defunct Club 3, the Paradise, and many others.

Knoblach, ever the renaissance man, also has an interest in poetry. He has a large book collection that is feed by his scouring of yard sales, estate sales, flea markets, all part of his daily routine as an antiques dealer.

Although not widely published, he is working on a poetry collection titled: "Mice Have Been Eating My Poems." The idea behind this was that when the drummer got back into poetry he went to the place he stored his dusty manuscripts. It seems the mice literally ate up his poetry!

During his undergraduate years Knoblach studied with the likes of Deborah Diggs, who tragically committed suicide several years ago. He counts his influences as Robert Bly, Antonio Machado, and Carl Sandburg. He describes his own poetry as dark and moody.

Knobloch said one of the reasons he left Somerville for Medford was that he could not afford to buy a condo in town. The other reason is the new parking regulations. He said many artists are leaving because it is a huge hassle to feed a meter every 15minutes, and when there are gatherings at studios it is next to impossible to park your car for any length of time due to the stringent laws.

Knoblach still hangs in Somerville, and pines for the days of the Someday Cafe. He is a loyal denizen of Davis Square, a customer of the coffee shops, and to use a cliche one of the many artists who contribute to the " Paris of New England."

Mice Have Been Eating My Old Poems

Mice have been eating my old poems.

Once cut crisp,

straight white edges

have tiny tears.

The smallest of holes in words.

What does a vowel taste like?

What part of my poems

were a paper crib

for a litter of mice?

Little millimeters of life

growing between sheetrock,

behind milk crates

crammed with books.


Mice eat all poets,

good and bad alike,

and their teeth are always growing.

So here’s a poem for a mouse

or mice (there are always more in hiding).

Poems keep being written

and time is always hungry.

All skittish creatures

seek shelter,

tiny comforts and distraction.

Every mouse dreams small dreams.

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